What is Neuropsychiatry?

 

Neuropsychiatry is the study of the brain and illnesses affecting the brain, especially mood, behavior and thinking.  With current advances in understanding the brain, one could say the field known as psychiatry is really neuropsychiatry.

In addition to studying the brain, specific disorders are studied, diagnosed and treated.  Some of these include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, dementias, schizophrenia, diseases due to alcohol and drug use and diseases in other parts of the body that affect the brain (such as thyroid disorders and many others).

Goals of a neuropsychiatrist do not stop at treating individuals with "mental illnesses" and keeping them stable and able to live normal lives.  Prevention, education are also important.  By using education, the patient may participate actively in staying well and stigma and discrimination can be overcome in the general population, leading to more compassionate and effective care.

 

What does Neuropsychiatric evaluation and treatment involve?

History of symptoms and course of illness.

General medical history, family history.

Review of symptoms (list of symptoms).

Substance abuse history, medications and allergies, prior response to treatment are collected.  Social history is very important too.

A mental status exam is performed, evaluating the individual for signs of neuropsychiatric illness.  This includes general presentation and appearance, speech, motor activity, mood, affect (outward manifestation of mood), thought form (logical?), thought content (obsessive thoughts, suicidal or homicidal ideas, hallucinations, delusions and other signs), fund of knowledge, memory, insight and judgement.

A general medical physical exam and laboratory studies, both for a baseline and to seek out other illnesses which may have neuropsychiatric symptoms but are not originating in the brain.

 

Other Testing

A multiaxial diagnosis is made (five axes).

   1.  Your diagnosis.

   2.  Personality disorders and mental retardation.

   3.  General medical illness.

   4.  Psychosocial stressors.

   5.  Global assessment of functioning (GAF score - how severe the illness is).

 

An individualized treatment plan

A list of problems, goals, methods of treatment, informed consent and timeline for achieving goals of treatment.

 

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